Ulster Unionist MLA Neil Somerville, along with Ulster Unionist councillors and representatives from Moneymore, Armagh, Craigavon and Dungannon have met with the Interim Chief Executive of the Southern Trust, Paula Clarke as well as her colleague Angela McVeigh to discuss the growing number of concerns in relation to the future of residential care, South Tyrone Hospital and the lack of health services in Armagh.
Mr Somerville said:
“We had a very positive and constructive meeting which was held on Wednesday 29th July in Gardeners Hall, Dungannon. First off I'd like to thank the Interim Chief Executive and her colleague for agreeing to meet with us and also to my Ulster Unionist colleagues.
“The meeting opened with the very important issue of dementia care. We wished to establish a clear answer in relation to what is being done about the growing number of dementia cases within the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area. My colleagues and I were firmly assured that there are good dementia services currently in place, with a new scheme involving ‘memory teams’ which is currently being rolled out throughout the Trust. This scheme aims to provide a top level of care to residents, and a top level of support to care home staff and I look forward to seeing this scheme becoming fully implemented throughout Northern Ireland.
“The next area of concern that was raised with Paula Clarke was the lack of health services in Armagh. Alderman Jim Speers highlighted a very important issue in particular which was the future of Armagh Minor Injuries Unit. Although the future of the MIU remains under doubt, the Interim Chief Executive did say that they are currently in the process of rolling out an acute care at home service. This is a consultant led service made up of a multi-disciplinary team consisting of doctors, nurses and pharmacists who would visit and work with patients in their own home. They also aim to extend this service to seven days a week.
“The next topic for discussion centred around the South Tyrone Hospital Minor Injuries Unit and Loane House. Councillor Walter Cuddy emphasised that Dungannon residents wish to see South Tyrone Hospital Minor Injuries Unit extend its hours, but in response Ms Clarke stated that evidence shows that the MIU is currently coping with the number of patients within the hours designated. Paula then made clear the point that the plan to develop a new centre on the site of Craigavon Area Hospital to replace Loane House is still going ahead. At the moment there is a maximum capacity of 45 beds in Loane House, and all demand so far has been met.
“A final major issue raised by Councillor’s David Taylor and Arnold Hatch was growing orthopaedic waiting lists. Paula explained that the process in past has been that the Trust is allocated funding for eg 100 operations, and demand is for 200 operations, the waiting list would then be decreased by receipt of the additional funding from monitoring rounds to fund weekend operations and private treatment therefore keeping waiting lists at more manageable levels. Given the continuing failure of the DUP and Sinn Fein to resolve the current funding crisis at Stormont, the additional resources from the June monitoring round has not been made available resulting in the current difficulties."